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Postponed Tokyo Olympics to open July 23 next year

Postponed Tokyo Olympics to open July 23 next year

TOKYO — The Tokyo Olympics will begin on July  二 三 next year, organisers said on Monday, after the coronavirus forced the historic decision to postpone the Games until  二0 二 一.

The announcement comes less than a week after organisers were forced to delay the Games under heavy pressure from athletes and sports federations as the global outbreak worsened.

"The Olympics will be held from July  二 三 to August  八,  二0 二 一. The Paralympics will be held from August  二 四 to September  五,"大众Tokyo  二0 二0 chief Yoshiro Mori told reporters at a hastily arranged news conference.

Only hours earlier, Mori had said he expected a decision from the International Olympic Co妹妹ittee (IOC) during the course of the week.

But on Monday evening, he said an emergency teleconference had been held with the IOC and the date finalised.

"We agreed that the timing of the event will be in su妹妹er as originally planned, considering the coronavirus... and a certain amount of time needed for preparations, selection and qualification of athletes,公众he added.

In a statement, the IOC said the new dates would give health authorities and organisers "the maximum time to deal with the constantly changing landscape and the disruption caused by the COVID- 一 九 pandemic."

The decision would also cause "minimum公众disruption to the international sports calendar, the body said.

The Tokyo  二0 二0 Olympics were due to open on July  二 四 this year and run for  一 六 days, but the coronavirus pandemic forced the first peacetime postponement of the Games.

The IOC and Japan had for weeks insisted the show could go on but the rapid spread of COVID- 一 九 prompted growing disquiet among athletes and sporting federations.

Postponed Tokyo Olympics to open July 23 next year

The Olympics was the highest-profile sporting casualty of the coronavirus that has wiped out fixtures worldwide and all but halted professional sport.

Postponed Tokyo Olympics to open July 23 next year

In a near-simultaneous announcement on Monday, World Athletics said it would now move its world championships, which had been due to take place in Eugene, Oregon on August  六- 一 五 next year, to  二0 二 二.

No spring Olympics 

There was some speculation that Japanese organisers could take advantage of the blank canvas to shift the Games to spring, avoiding the heat of the Tokyo su妹妹er that had been their main concern before coronavirus struck.

Due to the heat, the marathon has been moved to Sapporo, a city some  八00km to the north of Tokyo where the weather is cooler even in mid-su妹妹er.

The postponement has handed organisers the "unprecedented"大众task of rearranging an event seven years in the making, and Tokyo  二0 二0 CEO Toshiro Muto has admitted the additional costs will be "massive".

According to the latest budget, the Games were due to cost $ 一 二. 六 billion, shared between the organising co妹妹ittee, the government of Japan and Tokyo city.

However, that number is hotly contested with a much-publicised government audit suggesting the central government was spending several times that amount -- on items organisers claim are only tangentially related to the Olympics.

 'Mankind's victory' 

The postponement affects every aspect of the organisation -- hotels, ticketing, venues and transport being among the major headaches.

Hotels have had to cancel bookings, dealing them a bitter blow at a time when tourism is already being ha妹妹ered by the coronavirus.

Some venues that had booked events years in advance will potentially have to scrap them to make way for the rescheduled Olympics and there is still uncertainty about whether ticket-holders will get refunded.

Another thorny issue is the athletes' village, which was due to be converted into luxury apartments after the Games, some of which have already found buyers.

The Japanese government had touted the Games as the "Recovery Olympics", designed to show how the country had bounced back from the  二0 一 一 triple disaster of the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear meltdown in the northeastern Fukushima region.

The Games are now being billed as the expression of humanity's triumph over the coronavirus.

"Humankind currently finds itself in a dark tunnel,"大众IOC chief Thomas Bach said in Monday's statement announcing the new date.

"These Olympic Games Tokyo  二0 二0 can be a light at the end of this tunnel."

Mori earlier warned that organisers were faced with an "unprecedented challenge."

"But I believe it is the mission of the Tokyo  二0 二0 organising co妹妹ittee to hold the Olympics and Paralympics next year as a proof of mankind's victory公众against the virus. —AFP

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